A Syrian government airstrike on an opposition-held district in the embattled city of Aleppo killed at least two people in what was alleged to have been a chlorine gas attack.
The attack late on Wednesday in the city’s eastern Zabadieh neighbourhood saw at least four barrel bombs dropped, one of which purportedly released the chlorine gas.
A father recounted dramatic moments of gasping for breath and cowering with his family on the top floors of their apartment building as a choking gas filled the hallway.
It came hours after the Russian military, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces in the civil war, promised a daily, three-hour cease-fire for Aleppo to allow humanitarian aid in to besieged areas.
Lt Gen Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military’s General Staff said the ceasefire will be observed from 10am to 1pm, in order to facilitate the distribution of aid.
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said that reports of possible chemical weapons use in Syria “are of great concern.”
In a statement the Netherlands-based agency said that the use of chemical weapons by anyone under any circumstances is “reprehensible,” adding it continues to examine any credible reports it received.
Khaled Harah, a first aid worker in the rebel-held part of Aleppo, said a government helicopter dropped four barrel bombs on the neighbourhood of Zabadieh and that one of them released chlorine gas, leading to the deaths of a mother and her two children.
The report, which was posted online, could not be independently verified and it was not clear how it was determined that chlorine gas was released.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group that tracks the civil war in Syria, also reported that government barrel bombs struck the neighbourhood. It had reports of two killed and several people suffering breathing difficulties.
The Observatory made no mention of chlorine gas.
A Syrian military official denied the allegations and claimed that militants had fabricated the news and stressed that the Syrian army would never use chemical weapons.
Chlorine gas is a crude weapon, fatal in high concentrations while in lower doses, it can damage lungs or cause severe breathing difficulties, vomiting and nausea.